The Passports Act 2008 put the passport system on a statutory basis. It provides for the issue of passports, the processing of personal data (including biometric data) and controls to protect the integrity of the system. It provides procedures for cancellation and surrendering of passports, offenses in relation to passports and the issue of emergency travel certificates.
A person who is an Irish citizen, is entitled subject to conditions to be issued with a passport. He may apply to the Minister for Justice.
The system and legislation is administered by the Passports Office, which is a branch of the Department of Justice. The reference below to the Minister, refer in practice in most cases, the Passports Office.
An application for a passport is made in a prescribed form. It must be accompanied by specified information, including that set out below and the appropriate fee. An application for a passport for a child may be made on behalf of the child by his or her parent or guardian.
In some circumstances, the application may be made by a person authorised by court order or by a guardian or other person who has an interest in the child’s welfare. An application for a passport for a person suffering from physical or mental incapacity, may be made on his or her behalf by a person duly authorised on his behalf to act.
Before issuing a passport, the Minister must be satisfied that the person is an Irish citizen and must be satisfied as to his or her identity. Application which may be required may be prescribed. Information may be required to be accompanied by a statutory declaration or affidavit sworn by the person confirming that the information furnished is correct in every material respect and that all reasonable steps have been taken to verify its accuracy.
The Minister is allowed to process personal data in connection with passport applications in order to maintain the integrity of the system. He may process biometric data. The Minister may enter arrangements, including contractual arrangements, in relation to the processing of biometric data by other entities.
The Minister may prescribe periods of validity for passports. Different periods may be prescribed for different types of passports, for different categories of applicants and for the issue of the passports in different circumstances.
A passport is issued in the name of the applicant concerned, as appears in his birth certificate, his certificate of naturalisation or such other document as may be accepted by the Minister as evidence of citizenship. The Minister may, if requested by an applicant who is married or was married, issue a passport in a name that incorporates the surname of his or her spouse or former spouse, in place of or in addition to the surname of the applicant.
If an applicant applies to have a passport issued in a new name, he may be required to produce satisfactory evidence as to use of the new name, before a passport may be issued in that name.
If the applicant produces evidence to the satisfaction of the Minister, as his use of the new name for a period of no less than two years prior to the application, the Minister may issue a passport to the applicant in that new name.
If the applicant for a passport does not produce evidence of use of the new name for two years prior to the date of the application, the Minister may issue a passport in that name and enter the name of the applicant in the passport last issued as an observation in the passport. That entry shall remain there for at least two years.
A passport may be reissued upon gender re-assignment. An applicant who has undergone, or is undergoing procedures to alter his or her sexual characteristics and physical appearance to those of the opposite sex, and is using a new name, other than that registered, may apply to have the passport issued in the new name and to have the new sex of the applicant entered on it.
An applicant must produce medical evidence from a registered medical practitioner, to confirm that he has undergone or is undergoing the relevant treatments and satisfy the Minister that he is in fact using the new name. The issue of the passport on gender re-assignment, does not of itself confer any right under any other nor does it affect any other right, duty or obligation.
The Minister shall refuse a passport, if
- he is not satisfied that the applicant is an Irish citizen;
- is not satisfied as to the person’s identity;
- the person would in the opinion of the Minister, after consultation with the Minister for Justice or Minister for Defence, engage in conduct that might prejudice national security or the security of another State, endanger public safety, be contrary to the common good or might endanger that person or others;
- If the Minister has been notified by the Courts Service that a person has been ordered by way of a condition for bail to surrender his passport;
- where the applicant knowingly or recklessly provides information that is false and misleading in a material respect or swears a false affidavit
- where the Courts Service has given notice that that an order has been made requiring the surrender of a child’s passport or an order has been made requiring a person to refrain from applying for a passport.
The Minister may, but need not, refuse a passport to a person who does not comply with the application procedures or to a person who holds a valid passport, where there is no sufficient reason for the issue of another passport. The person is to be informed in writing of the refusal of a passport and the reasons for it.
The Minister may enter on the passport, such information provided to him in connection with the application, including biometric data, as is considered necessary to identify the person concerned. The Minister is to have regard to relevant international standards and practices, in relation to the issue and form of passports generally. A passport is to be in such form as is prescribed.
The Minister shall, before issuing a passport for a child, be satisfied on reasonable grounds that each person who is a guardian, has consented to the issue of a passport. If the parent of a child is not a guardian, the Minister shall, in deciding whether to issue a passport without the consent of the parent, have regard to the circumstances of the case, in so far as they are known.
The Minister may issue a passport to a child, without the consent of a guardian, if a court in the State makes an order directing that it be so issued. If a court makes an order under statutory authority which authorises a person other than a guardian (including HSE) to give consent to the issue of a passport of the child, the Minister may, subject to the Act and for so long as the order is in force, issue a passport to the child in accordance with the order.
The Minister may, on application made by a guardian, issue a passport for a child without the consent of another guardian, if it is not practicable or appropriate, by reason of the fact that the other guardian and the child are ordinarily resident outside the State, for that guardian to obtain an order of a court in the State directing that a passport be issued for the child, without that other guardian’s consent, provided that the Minister is satisfied that a passport should be issued having regard to all the circumstances, including whether or not that other guardian has notified an objection to the issue of a passport for the purpose of securing the welfare of the child.
The Minister may, on application made by a guardian of a child or any person, who has an interest in the welfare of the child, issue a passport to the child without consent to such issue by the other guardian, or if appropriate any of the guardians of the child, if the Minister is satisfied that there exists in relation to the child, exceptional circumstances involving an immediate and serious risk of harm to his or her life, health and safety requiring him to undertake travel for which a passport is required. The Minister must be satisfied that a passport should be issued for the purpose of securing the welfare of the child. Such a passport may be valid for such period as is specified.
There is provision for the issue of an emergency passport, in circumstances where a passport has been lost or stolen. An emergency passport may be issued if the Minister is satisfied that the passport which has been issued, has been lost, stolen, damaged or is temporarily unavailable and the person does not have a valid passport.
The person must provide evidence of his intention to travel immediately, for which a passport is required and that by reason of circumstances of urgency in relation to the application, there is insufficient time in which to issue a passport, other than an emergency passport to the person.
The Minister may, issue an emergency travel certificate where there is reasonable cause to believe that the person is an Irish citizen, that the passport issued has been lost, stolen, damaged or is temporarily unavailable, or the person does not hold a valid passport and the person provides evidence of his intention to travel immediately, but by reason of circumstances of urgency, the person is unable to comply with the requirements regarding the issue of a passport.
An application for an emergency travel certificate may be brought on behalf of a child by a guardian or on behalf of a person suffering from a physical or mental disability, by a person duly authorised to act on his behalf. An emergency passport shall be valid for such period, of less than a year as may be specified. An emergency travel certificate shall be valid for such period as the Minister considers appropriate, in respect of the journey for which it has been issued.
A diplomatic passport may be issued to a person, if he is an officer of diplomatic rank or is a person, or one of a class of persons, the Minister considers appropriate for the issue of such a passport, for the purpose of facilitating him or her in travelling abroad in connection with the performance of his official functions.
A diplomatic passport is a passport so described on its face indicating that the person to whom it is issued is an officer of diplomatic rank or other qualifying person. The Minister in the legislation is the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
If a person believes that his passport has been lost or stolen, he must notify the Minister and/or An Garda Síochána as soon as practicable. Where the notification is given, the Minister may enquire into the circumstances and may issue another passport, an emergency passport or an emergency travel certificate, as appropriate.
The Minister may cancel a passport,
- if he becomes aware of a fact or circumstances, which would have required or permitted him to refuse a passport under the applicable criteria, where the Minister has been informed by the Minister for Justice that the Irish citizenship of the person has been revoked by the Government
- if, having consulted with the Department of Justice or Minister for Defence or both, is of opinion that the person is likely to engage in conduct that is a risk to security, national security, endanger public safety or order, be contrary to the common good or endanger that person or others;
- If the Minister is notified that the passport is, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, in the possession of another person;
- If the Minister is notified by another person duly authorised that the passport has been lost or stolen.
When a passport is cancelled, the Minister is to inform the person by notice in writing of the cancellation and the grounds for cancellation. The person concerned is obliged to physically surrender the passport. Where it is retained, a notice may be issued, requiring it to be in surrendered.
A person who, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, has a passport other than a passport that was issued to him in his possession or under his control shall, surrender it to the Minister or to An Garda Síochána. An applicant for a passport shall, if so required by the Minister, surrender a passport that was issued to him by the Minister, before another passport may be issued.
There is a range of offences relating to the misuse and abuse of passports. Offences provided for, include offences relating to the
- application process;
- possession, control, use, attempted use of a false passport
- wilful damage or destruction of a passport;
- making or possessing materials to make false passports.
A lesser offence is provided for in the case of a young person using a passport, which has not issued to him for the purpose of gaining entry to a licensed premises.
Offences may be prosecuted in the State, notwithstanding that they are committed outside the State. There is provision for offences by bodies corporate, including provision for prosecution of officers of the company concerned who have consented to the offence.
Passports remain the property of the Minister at all time.
A person who is dissatisfied with a decision of the Minister in relation to a refusal of a passport under most grounds, may appeal to a passport appeals officer. An appeal may be taken in respect of the revocation of a passport. The Minister may appoint one or more persons with knowledge and experience relating to the issue of passports, to be a passport appeals officer.
A passport appeals officer is independent in the performance of his functions. They hold office for fixed renewable terms. A passport appeal is made in writing to the officer and shall be accompanied by a statement of the grounds. The Minister may furnish observation in writing in relation to the grounds of appeal. Copies of the observations are given to the person appealing, who shall be given the opportunity to respond.
The passport appeals officer may confirm the decision or recommend that the decision be set aside. The Minister may refuse to accept the recommendation and must inform the passport appeals officer and the appellant by notice in writing for the reasons of so doing.